Respect and Reburial, and Poor ol’ Uncle Clem

The British Druid Order Forums Student Support Forums Bardic Student Support Forum Respect and Reburial, and Poor ol’ Uncle Clem

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      When I was young, I was taken to the King Tut exhibit when it came to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I can remember the awe I felt looking at the golden sarcophagus. After leaving the exhibit, my mother asked me how I enjoyed seeing all these things that had been unearthed from so long ago. She was a bit taken aback when my then eight-year-old self replied, “They dug him up and took all his stuff!” I did find all the artifacts interesting, but at the same time felt as if he had been both disturbed and robbed. I hadn’t thought about it much until this course, and I can definitely still say that I would prefer that, if archaeologists wish to study the past, that they restore everything after study, although I do realize in this case of Tutankhamun it would have merely opened up the doors for thieves. I believe that when someone is buried, the love and care of their family and friends and the things they place with the deceased are important and should, ultimately, be left undisturbed.

      Which brings me to the topic of “display” of remains, not just of the long-dead, but of the recently deceased. My mother passed away several years ago of Leukemia. In the weeks preceding her death, she requested that she be cremated, and have no wake or formal service. Having been reared in the Bible Belt, this was a surprise to me. She explained, though, a funny story she recalled from her own childhood. When she was young, in the 1940s, it was still custom to hold a wake in the family home for several days. She recalled when her Uncle Clem died, she was very small. She could see him lying there, having to stand on tip-toe, and noticed a fly had alit on his nose. She was too small to shoo it away. Family members came and went, and no adults addressed the issue of the fly. “It just sat there, dusting its back legs, on Poor ol’ Uncle Clem’s nose, everyone stopping to look at him and not doing anything about it”. And that, it seems, was the reason she didn’t want a wake/funeral. She didn’t want anyone stopping by to stare at her without seeing her, as who she was, fly or no fly. I did honor her wishes, to much gossip from friends and family alike who thought it improper despite what she wanted. I have also had it whispered in my ear by others, that they would wish also not to be put on display after their death.


        Hi Carol,

        Nice to meet you here. I do understand what you mean. I suppose, in the case of King Tut, the fact that we repeat his name today would have been seen as a blessing and a boon according to ancient Egyptian beliefs – their whole notions of immortality tied up with ideas of remembering their names. Nevertheless, I know what you mean. I have felt sad at times in front of the remains of ancient British people ‘conserved’ in our museums.

        My own belief is that once the soul leaves its body, ready for the journey to rebirth, then all that remains is mere inanimate matter, however, respect is respect, and I personally wouldn’t want to be ‘gawked’ at by all and sundry either.


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